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School board candidates should read this

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If all the candidates in the Nov. 26 by-elections can get their relatives and neighbours to vote, we could hit the heady heights of double-digit voter turnout.

Candidates in Ward 2 of Louis Riel School Division should be helped immensely by voter interest in the city council by-election for the St. Vital ward seat that Gord Steeves vacated to run provincially. Check what Bartley and Jen write about that race.

Meanwhile, we’ve got eight candidates in Louis Riel, and seven for the Ward 1 seat in Winnipeg School Division that’s been vacant since Joyce Bateman ran federally last spring.

In a related digression....I’m coming off the field at UM Sunday morning, kind of tired after running for six of the preceding 28 hours, dozens of kids and parents hurrying past in all directions, and like characters passing a coded message on a busy Eastern Bloc street in a John le Carre novel, a guy in a ball cap going past says, "I have a website now."

I’m assuming it was a candidate, otherwise it would be really weird, but I barely caught a glimpse of him in the crowds and don’t have a clue who it was.

Anyway, back to our candidates.

Life’s sad reality is that city council candidates get more attention than school board candidates. Maybe if you ever have one Winnipeg school board, as other cities do....but I digress.

Last general election, we opened up our website to candidates with a lengthy on-line survey that let candidates for school trustee get their messages out, both through our questions and through opportunities to expound on issues and priorities. Quite a few candidates took advantage, but lots didn’t.

We’d assumed that candidates for public office would monitor the media and look for coverage. Some candidates told us quite unequivocally that we were wrong, and that I should have come to each of them personally with an invitation to consider taking part in our coverage.

So here we are again, with two of the 59 school board seats inside the city up for grabs.

No, we won’t publish your life story. But I’ll be contacting each of the 15 of you over the next few days to find out who you are, why you’re running, and what you see as the issues. You’ll have your chance to tell me you believe in a quality education and in fiscal responsibility — oh, wait, snarkiness does not become me. But we’ll reach beyond the cliches.

We’ll be posting by-election coverage on our website early next month.

 I’ll have more information as the campaigns go along, but let’s start for now with LRSD, where trustee Mike Ducharme packed it in to run for the vacant council seat.

Mike Daoust is a former trustee defeated in the October 2010 general election.

Jasmine Van Gerwen has two kids at Island Lakes Community School and works for First Nation and Inuit Health. The seat opened up at the same time Van Gerwen was lobbying the board to provide busing for junior high kids taking shops at Glenlawn Collegiate.

 Nancy Cooke has two kids in division schools, and is the business manager of a dental office.

 Colleen Mayer was Steeves’ campaign manager in the provincial election.

 Jeremiah Kopp is finance director for the Young Liberals of Manitoba.

 For Brnne Mackenzie, Sherry Liley, and Edna Sears, I’ve yet to come up with much information.

 Over to WSD, where most candidates have websites up and running.

 Colleen McFadden has been a leading activist for a new gym for Queenston School.

 Mark Wasyliw is a lawyer who ran federally for the NDP, and has been endorsed by the labour council.

 Randall Znamirowski is a financial consultant who’s worked for municipal governments and hospitals.

 Evan Thompson is an engineer working in management with Manitoba Hydro.

 Gerrit Theule is a stay-at-home dad who’s trained as a classical musician and opera singer.

 Ben Shedden is a teacher working for an inner city training program.

 Brenda Poersch ran in the 2010 general election, and finished fifth in a six-way race for three seats, getting 3,596 votes. I knew nothing about Poersch then, and I still know nothing about her; in that 2010 election, Poersch didn’t have a website, didn’t respond to our on-line candidates’ survey and did not respond to at least one other major on-line survey open to all candidates, and didn’t deliver any literature to our house or ever come to our door. I’m hoping I can find out more this time.


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